How do I "break out" of Pro-Bono work.?
I am looking to get my freelance business off the ground. I've registered myself as a freelance writer but I keep getting asked to do pro-bono work. How do I "break" out of this and start being a successful Freelance Writer.
Pro bono work is often looked at as a bad thing and the only thing you have to do is to avoid it, altough it has the word GOOD int the name. It can not be wrong, right? Certainly if somebody works hard, the work should be paid correctly. But int this case work has benn mixed with sponsorship. I think honesty is the best way out. It starts all in your mind. If somebody hires you, you create, write, draw, etc. something and they do not pay, is not a client. If someone gets a work for free from you than YOU are the SPONSOR. In these cases you may proudly state, that you sponsored a number of companies and organizations. This is nice and good, but not business. I would suggest, you gather the best players you already sponsored with work and time. After that, try to characterize them. You can find answers by inspecting their behaviour and attitude. it will help you in the future to sort them out from the real clients. The next step is to get new clients, who are not looking at you as a future sponsor. Never give up! :)
You might find success with "The New Way to Hire Great Freelancers." You have to pay to play but the cost seems reasonable. It is $16.99 to $26.99 per month for 20 to 40 credits over a 6-month subscription. And they offer a guarantee of sorts. All of the subscriptions also include the Outsource.com Guarantee which guarantees that you will find work during the 6 month subscription, or you will receive another 6 months free. See www.outsource.com for details.
Also check out "9 Online Gold Mines for Finding Paid Freelance Writing Jobs" by Kelly Gurnett at http://thewritelife.com/find-freelance-writing-jobs/#iuERHC:R1t. Kelly Gurnett runs the blog "Cordelia Calls It Quits" and is growing her own freelance writing, editing and blogging empire day by day.
- The Pragmatic Web Designer
Start asking money for it. No joking. Spend ten percent of your time pro bono. And full is full. People are prepared to pay the price you ask on only one condition. And that is that your offer means value to them. So map out your customers, get to know them, talk to them and find out what they want. Then go home and design your product in such a way that it fits to the real needs of your customer. Want to know more? Read the new book " value propositioning". By Alexander Osterwalder. Dollars well worth spending.
This may sound silly, but maybe the use of the word 'freelance' indicates what it say...free. You are a writer for hire...But the only way to break out of it, is to say No (as noted below from others). Now, you may set up criteria and a goal for yourself that you accept a certain number of pro-bono work within a year...but that is it. You can then use that when asked for free work.
You charging or not for your work will speak volumes to others about the value you feel of yourself, and whether you are deserving to be paid for your expertise. You are deserving, and you have to now position yourself with services, rates and firm conviction in your sales presentation to support that belief. Whether you broadcast your rates anywhere or not (I do not), it is in the communication and negotiation where you message the value you bring to your customers in the writing you do, and that justifies being paid for it. If they don't like it, oh well, you move on and find the work and customer who deserves you.
This is not about others wanting it to be free, it is about YOU accepting that or not.
I agree with Jennifer Fortney. You need to learn to say "no".
Whether or not saying "no" will achieve what you wish (get paid for your work) depends on the simple Law of Supply and Demand. If there are thousands of freelancers willing to work for free, you're going to not succeed unless you can differentiate yourself from the pack.
Let me put it another way. Suppose someone were to go into the business of providing air for people to breathe. Why would anyone in their right mind buy air when they can get it for free?
Now, suppose that person were to start selling gold instead? It's the same story, really, except for the fact that gold is a rare commodity.
Emily, one of the steps that you can take is create your own brand, offer your services in places like elance.com or freelancer.com and make sure your charge what you are worth, and send your clients to those sites when they are inquiring for your services, this way if they are new clients they will know your rates, and if they are clients that you had done pro-bono work in the past, they will start realizing that your quality work is worth something and the time has come to give it a monetary value.
If possible create a website or a blog featuring your work, and make sure that it's always about YOU as a writer, not as the writer that does it for free, always make sure you add your hourly rates, this way you will attract more paying clients when they see the quality of your work, and it will weed out some of those clients looking for pro-bono.
Now, it is important to not discard completely the pro-bono work, just make sure that you do it for very specific causes or people important to you and let that be known in your site or marketing items as well, this is a very "elegant" way to dismiss unwanted pro-bono work. Remember pro-bono is not an obligation is a voluntary gesture.
Last but not least, learn how to say "NO". As hard that it may seem, it will hurt you in the future if you do not practice "NO", saying it is not bad at all, just make sure the "NO" is delivered in a proper tone with a reasoning behind it, avoiding to burn bridges.
Good luck in your venture!
Dont let people take advantage of your altruism. Charge what youre worth for every project you take on. People equate price with value - ie, the more expensive the better you must be. Check out the pricing and marketing 2015 book its like 35 bucks and it will give you a good idea of costs etc. Consider AIGA or the Graphics Guild listings.
Have you established what your prices are? If so, make sure they are on your website, and that you can confidently tell people what your prices are when they ask. If they ask you to do pro bono work, tell them you don't do that.
I would finish out your projects and then start saying "no". Set your standards and value, and don't be afraid to walk away. Those high-quality clients will be willing to pay you. Demand of the universe what you desire and don't lower your standards! Have faith!
Taper off the pro-bono work. Get references from your past clients and market yourself with the references to get paid work. Rajesh has a nice answer.